On the morning of Maundy Thursday, after failing to get accommodations near the Pagsanjan Falls, we decided to head back to the town of Kalayaan for lunch at Exotik Restaurant. But it was only after 10.00 a.m. and too early for lunch so where the road forked, instead of taking the left lane that would take us to Kalayaan, we turned right and headed toward Lake Caliraya. We decided it would be worth checking if there were available accommodations at Lagos del Sol. But we couldn’t find Lagos del Sol. What we found was a huge sign that said Japanese Garden. And that was where we went.
There was a gate with guards, we needed to buy the P10 peso tickets to get in, Speedy looked for loose change, paid for the tickets and off we went hunting for a parking space. There’s a NAPOCOR (National Power Corporation) compound next to the Japanese Garden and we got the impression that those manning the gate were NAPOCOR people. We drove through the gate, there was another sign that said Yamashita shrine, I joked about digging for the treasure, then we parked. As soon as I got out of the pick-up the first thing I noticed was the lush greenery. I was standing under a huge old tree and its trunk was covered with a vine of some kind.
There were a few palm trees and the cluster of red fruits contrasted vividly with the bright blue sky.
There was a bridge over a pond…
Speedy and Alex started to cross to the other side…
But Sam decided to find out if she could fly to the other side, a la Harry Potter.
The pond is covered in places with water lilies…
… with bright pink flowers growing intermittently. Alex asked me to take zoomed-in photos of the pink flowers so she could paint them.
At the other end of the bridge were stone steps leading to the ridge which supposedly offered a panoramic view of Lake Caliraya. So up we climbed.
But the hunt for a good spot on the ridge was soon forgotten when we saw the huge trees.
It was really huge.
And it looked better and better as I got nearer.
Even the view from the opposite side was great.
And that was where someone spotted the spider. Honestly, I could barely see it. And with the sun almost directly overhead, I squinted to zoom in with my camera. After a while, I gave up. But Speedy, Sam and Alex persevered. And that was when I took the photo of the three of them, cameras focused and oblivious to what I was doing.
To make a long story short, we headed back to the pick-up soon after that. It was almost noon, we didn’t have drinking water, the sun scorched the skin and I wasn’t about to wait for Sam to develop rashes. It was a good thing that the huge trees provided ample shade but it was still quite a long walk back to the parking area. From Caliraya, we headed back to the fork on the road and took the lane toward the town of Kalayaan and Exotik Restaurant.
As I was writing this post, I did a search on the Japanese Garden in Caliraya and came up with two useful links. The first has information on who built the garden.
The Japanese Garden is a shrine created by Philippine-Japan Friendship Society in memory of the Japanese soldiers who died during the encounter between the Japanese and Filipino-American troops at the close of World War II. Also to symbolizethe amity and friendship that exist between the Philippines and Japan. There are picnic huts on the lower level of the garden where visitors can sit and enjoy a snack.
The second says something about who maintains it:
Also in Barangay K. Talaongan is the Japanese Garden, covering about 12 hectares of land. Unlike the other resorts which is best for boating and other water-related activities, the Japanese Garden is a memorial park and the burial place of the Japanese soldiers who fought and died here during the Second World War. Moreover, the grave of General Yamashita can be found here.
The place was donated by the Japanese Memorial Garden Construction Committee in 1076 and is presently managed by the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR).
Okay, so we guessed right. The Japanese Garden is currently under the auspices of the NAPOCOR.